At an early hour in the morning I was wayfaring again. I had made up my mind to reach St. Affrique in a day's walk. There were some thirty miles of country to cross, and I had, moreover, to reckon with the July sun, which shines very earnestly in Southern France, as though it were bent on ripening all the fruits of the earth in a single day. By getting up earlier than usual I was able to watch the morning opening like a wild rose. When we feel all the charm that graces the beginning of a summer day, we resolve in future to rise with the birds, but the next morning's sun finds most of us sluggards again.

I returned towards the Tarn, which I had left the day before, but with the intention of keeping somewhat to the south of it for awhile. However beautiful the scenery of a gorge may be, the sensation of being at the bottom of a crevice at length becomes depressing, and the mind, which is never satisfied with anything long, begins to wonder what the world is like beyond the enclosing cliffs, and the desire to climb them and to look forth under a wider range of sky grows stronger. Such change is needed, for when there is languor within, the impressions from without are dull. The country through which I now passed was very beautiful with its multitude of chestnut-trees, the pale yellow plumes of the male blossom still clinging to them and hiding half their leaves; but here again was the sad spectacle of abandoned, weedy, and almost leafless vineyards upon stony slopes which had been changed into fruit-bearing terraces by the long labour of dead generations.

The first village I came to was Coupiac, lying in a deep hollow, from the bottom of which rose a rugged mass of schistous rock, with houses all about it, under the protecting shadow of a strong castle with high round towers in good preservation. It was a mediaeval fortress, but its mullioned windows cut in the walls of the towers and other details showed that it had been considerably modified and adapted to changed conditions of life at the time of the Renaissance. A troop of little girls were going up to it, and teaching Sisters, who had changed it into a stronghold of education, were waiting for them in the court. Hard by upon the edge of the castle rock was a calvary. The naked schist, ribbed and seamed, served for pavement in the steep little streets of this picturesque old village, where most of the people went barefoot. This is the custom of the region, and does not necessarily imply poverty. Here the sabotier's trade is a poor one, and the cobbler's is still worse. In the Albigeois I was the neighbour of a well-to-do farmer who up to the age of sixty had never known the sensation of sock or stocking, nor had he ever worn a shoe of wood or leather.

No female beauty did I see here, nor elsewhere in the Rouergue. Plainness of feature in men and women is the rule throughout this extensive tract of country. But there is this to be said in favour of the girls and younger women, that they generally have well-shaped figures and a very erect carriage, which last is undoubtedly due to the habit of carrying weights upon the head, especially water, which needs to be carefully balanced.

How the peasants stared at me as I passed along! The expression of their faces showed that they were completely puzzled as to what manner of person I was, and what I was doing there. Had I been taking along a dancing-bear they would have understood my motives far better, and my social success with them would have been undoubtedly greater. As it was, most of them eyed me with extreme suspicion. Not having been rendered familiar, like the peasants of many other districts, with that harmless form of insanity which leads people to endure the hardship of tramping for the sake of observing the ruder aspects of human life, the lingering manners of old times, and of reading the book of nature in solitude, they thought I must perforce be engaged upon some sinister and wicked work. And now this reminds me of an old man at Ambialet, whom I used to send on errands to the nearest small town. He liked my money, but he could never satisfy his conscience that it was not something like treason to carry letters for me, for he had the feeling to the last that he was in the pay of the enemy. 'Ah!' he growled one day (not to me), 'I have always heard it said that the English regretted our beautiful rocks and rich valleys. They are coming back! I am sure they are coming back!' I used to see him looking at me askance with a peculiarly keen expression in his eyes, and as his words had been repeated to me I knew of what he was thinking. He was the first man of his condition who to my knowledge called rocks beautiful. The peasant class abhor rocks on account of their sterility, and because the rustic idea of a beautiful landscape is the fertile and level plain. In searching for the picturesque and the grandeur of nature, it is perfectly safe to go to those places which the peasant declares to be frightful by their ugliness.

Leaving Coupiac behind me, I turned towards the east. The road, having been cut in the side of the cliff, exposed layers of brown argillaceous schist, like rotten wood, and so friable that it crumbled between the fingers; but what was more remarkable was that the layers, scarcely thicker than slate, instead of being on their natural plane, were turned up quite vertically. I was now ascending to the barren uplands. Near the brow of a hill I passed a very ancient crucifix of granite, the head, which must originally have been of the rudest sculpture, having the features quite obliterated by time.

A rural postman in a blouse with red collar had been trudging up the hill behind me, and I let him overtake me so that I might fall into conversation with him, for these men are generally more intelligent or better informed than the peasants. I have often walked with them, and never without obtaining either instruction or amusement. When we had reached the highest ground, from which a splendid view was revealed of the Rouergue country. - a crumpled map of bare hills and deep dark gorges - the postman pointed out to me the village of Roquecésaire (Caesar's Rock), on a hill to the south, and told me a queer story of a battle between its inhabitants and those of an adjacent village. The quarrel, strange to say, arose over a statue of the Virgin, which was erected not long since upon a commanding position between the two villages. 'Now, the Holy Virgin,' said the postman, in no tone of mockery, 'was obliged to turn her back either to one village or the other, and this was the cause of the fight!' When first set up, the statue looked towards Roquecésaire, to the great satisfaction of the inhabitants; but the people of the other village, who thought themselves equally pious, held that they had been slighted; and the more they looked at the back of the Virgin turned towards them the angrier they became, and the more determined not to submit to the indignity. At length, unable to keep down their fury any longer, they sallied forth one day, men, women and children, with the intention of turning the statue round. But the people of Roquecésaire were vigilant, and, seeing the hostile crowd coming, went forth to give them battle. The combat raged furiously for hours, and it was watched - so said the postman - with much excitement and interest by the curé of Montclar - the village we were now approaching - who, happening to have a telescope, was able to note the varying fortune of war. At length the Roquecésaire people got the worst of it, and they were driven away from the statue, which was promptly turned round. Although many persons were badly knocked about, nobody died for the cause. The energetic intervention of the spiritual and temporal authorities prevented a renewal of the scandal, and it was thought best, in the interest of peace, to allow the statue to be turned half-way to one village and half to the other.

The postman was a little reserved at first, not knowing to what country I belonged, but when he was satisfied that I was not a German, he let his tongue rattle on with the freedom which is one of the peculiarities of his class. He confided to me that the best help to a man who walked much was absinthe. It pulled him up the hills and sent him whisking across the plains.

'I eat very little,' said my black-bearded, bright-eyed fellow-tramp; 'but,' he added, 'I drink three or four glasses of absinthe a day.'

'You will eat still less,' I said, 'if you don't soon begin to turn off the tap.'

Considering the hard monotony of their lives and the strain imposed upon physical endurance by walking from twenty to twenty-five miles a day in all weathers, the rural postmen in France are a sober body of men. This one told me that he walked sometimes eight miles out of his way to carry a single letter.

Thus gossiping, we reached Montclar, on the plateau, a little to the south of the deep gorge of the Tarn. Here we entered an auberge, where the postman was glad to moisten his dry throat with the green-eyed enemy. This inn was formerly one of those small châteaux - more correctly termed maisons fortes, or manors - which sprang up all over France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The inhabited part of the building was reached by a spiral staircase enclosed by a tower. A balcony connected with the principal room enabled me to read an inscription cut in a stone of the tower: 'Tristano Disclaris, 1615.' But for this record left by the founder, his name would probably have passed, long ago, out of the memory of men.

I found that the chief occupation of the people in this house was that of making Roquefort cheeses; indeed, it was impossible not to guess what was going on from the all-pervading odour. And yet: I was still many miles from Roquefort! However, I knew all about this matter before. I was not twenty miles from Albi when I found that Roquefort cheese-making was a local industry. In fact, this is the case over a very wide region. The cheeses, having been made, are sent to Roquefort to ripen in the cellars, which have been excavated in the rock, and also to acquire the necessary reputation. While my lunch was being prepared I looked into the dairy, which was very clean and creditable. On the ground were large tubs of milk, and on tables were spread many earthenware moulds pierced with little holes and containing the pressed curds.

The hostess was a buxom, good-tempered woman with rosy cheeks. She told me that she could not give me anything better than ham and eggs. She could not have offered me anything more acceptable after all the greasy cooking, the steadfast veal and invariable fowl which I had so long been compelled to accept daily with resignation. By a mysterious revelation of art she produced the ham and eggs in a way that made me think that she must surely be descended from one of the English adventurers who did all manner of mischief in the Rouergue some five or six centuries ago. Such ham and eggs in her case could only be explained by the theory of hereditary ideas. Nevertheless, she had become French enough to look at me with a dubious, albeit a good-natured eye. My motive in coming there and going farther without having any commercial object in view was more than she could fathom. After my visit to the dairy I fancy her private notion was that I was commissioned by the English Government to find out how Roquefort cheese was made, with a view to competition. At length, as we talked freely, she let the state of her mind with regard to me escape her unawares by putting this question plump:

'How is it the gendarmes have not stopped you?'

'That I cannot tell you,' said I, much amused by her candour; 'but you may be sure of this, I am not afraid of them.'

Her husband was listening behind the door, and I observed an expression of relief in his face when I took up my pack and departed. If I was to be pounced upon, he preferred, for his own peace of mind and the reputation of his house, that it should be done elsewhere. All the village had heard of my coming, and when I reappeared outside there was a small crowd of people waiting to have a good look at me. I thought from these signs that I was likely to be asked to show my papers again by some petty functionary; but no, I was allowed to pass on without interference. Perhaps the postman had given a good account of me, the absinthe having touched his heart. There is much diplomacy in getting somebody on your side while travelling alone through these unopened districts far from railways. Wandering among the peasants of the Tarn and the Aveyron teaches one what ignorance really means, what blindness of intellect goes with it. And yet their enlightenment by the usual methods would be a doubtful blessing to themselves and others.

I was now descending to the valley, and not long after leaving the village an attempt to escape from the winding hot road led me into one of those wildernesses which are to me infinitely more pleasing than the most artistic gardens, with their geometric flower-beds and their counterfeit lakes and grottoes. The surface of the land was thrown or washed up into dark-brown hillocks of broken argillaceous schist, which repelled vegetation, but the hollows were wooded with mountain oak and many shrubs. Farther down there were other hillocks, equally bare, but formed of the blue-looking lias marl which the husbandman detests with good reason, for its sterility is incorrigible. This terre bleue, as the peasants call it, was not the only sign of a change in the formation; fragments of calcareous stone were mixed with the brown soil. I was leaving the dark schist and was approaching those immense accumulations of jurassic rock, whose singular forms and brilliant colours lend such extraordinary grandeur to the scenery of the Upper Tarn. There was also a change in the vegetation. A large species of broom, four or five feet high, covered with golden blossom the size of pea-flowers, although the common broom had long passed its blooming, now showed itself as well as roseroot sedum, neither of which had I seen while coming over the schist. The cicadas returned and screamed from every tree. I captured one and examined the musical instrument - a truly marvellous bit of mechanism - that it carried in each of its sides. It is not legs which make the noise, as is the case with crickets and grasshoppers, but little hard membranes under the wings are scraped together at the creature's will. The sound is not musical, for when it is not a continuous scissor-grinding noise, it is like the cry of a corncrake with a weak throat; but what delight there is in it! and how it expresses that joy in the present and recklessness of the morrow, which the fabulist has in vain contrasted with the virtuous industry of the ant in order to point a moral for mankind! - vainly, because thecigale's short life in the sunlit trees will ever seem to men a more ideal one than that of the earth-burrowing ant, with its possible longevity, its peevish parsimony, and restless anxiety for the future. I could have lain down under a tree like a gipsy in this wild spot, and let the summer dreams come to me from their airy castles amongst the leaves, if I had not made up my mind to reach St. Affrique before night. There was another reason which, although it clashes with poetry, had better be told for the sake of truth. Insects would soon have taken all pleasure from the siesta. Great black ants, and great red ones, little ants too, that could have walked with comfort through the eye of a fine needle, notwithstanding their wickedness, and intermediate species of the same much-praised family, would have scampered over me and stung me, and flies of bad propensities would have settled upon me. An enthusiastic entomologist has only to lie down in the open air in this part of France at the end of July or in August, and he will soon be able to observe, perhaps feel, sufficient insects travelling on their legs or on the wing to satisfy a great deal of curiosity. Often the air is all aflutter with butterflies, many of them remarkable for their size or the beauty of their colouring. One I have particularly noticed; not large, but coloured with exquisite gradations of bright-yellow, orange, and pale-green.

I believe I added to my day's journey by my excursion across country, but the time would have passed less pleasantly on the road. The winding yellow line, however, appeared again, and I had to tramp upon it. And a hot, toilsome trudge it was, through that long narrow valley with scrubby woods reaching down to the road, but with no habitations and no water. It was the desert. The afternoon was far advanced when the country opened and I saw a village of coquettish appearance, for most of the houses had been washed with red, and many of the window-shutters were painted green.

I was parched with thirst, for the sun had been broiling me for hours; therefore, when I saw this village on the hillside, I hurried towards it with the impatience of a traveller who sees the palm-trees over a well in the sands of Africa. In a place that could give so much attention to colour there must surely be an auberge, I thought. And I judged rightly, for there were two little inns. I found the door of the first one closed, and learnt that the people were out harvesting. I walked on to the next, and found that likewise closed, and was again informed that all the family were out in the fields. The whole village was nearly deserted; almost everyone was busy reaping and putting up the sheaves. I stopped beside the village pump and reflected upon my misery. I had resigned myself to water, when a woman carrying a sickle opened the door of one of the inns. Some friendly bird must have told her of my thirst and weariness - perhaps the merry little quail that I heard as I came up from the plain crying 'To-whit! To-whit!' That blessed auberge actually contained bottled beer. And the room was so cool that butter would not have melted in it. These southern houses have such thick stone walls that they have the double advantage of being warm in winter and delightfully cool in summer. I had some difficulty in resisting the temptation to stop the night at this inn; but I did resist it, and was again on the road to St. Affrique before the heat of the day had passed. Another toilsome trudge, during which I met an English threshing-machine being dragged along by bullocks, and the familiar words upon it made me feel for awhile quite at home. The apparition, however, gave me a shock, for the antique flail is still the instrument commonly used for threshing in the southern provinces of France.

At a village called Moulin, lying in a rich and beautiful valley, I met the Sorgues, one of the larger tributaries of the Tarn, and for the rest of my journey I had the companionship of a charming stream. Evening came on, and the fiery blue above me grew soft and rosy. Rosy, too, were the cornfields, where bands of men and women, fifteen or twenty together, were reaping gaily, for the heat of the day was gone, the freshness of the twilight had come, and the fragrance of the valley was loosened. I had left the last group of reapers behind, and the silence of the dusk was broken only by the tree crickets and the rapids of the little river, when a woman passed me on the road and murmured ' Adicias!' (God be with you!). 'Adicias! I replied, and then I was again alone. Presently there was a jangling of bells behind, and I was soon overtaken by three horses and a crowded diligence. The sound of the bells grew fainter and fainter, and once more I was alone with the summer night. The stars began to shine, and the river was lost in the mystery of shadow, save where a sunken rock made the water gleam white, and broke the peace with a cry of trouble.

It was late when I reached St. Affrique, and I believe no tramp arrived at his bourne that night more weary than I, for I had been walking most of the day in the burning sun. But although I lay down like a jaded horse, I was too feverish to sleep. To make matters worse, there was a cock in the yard just underneath my window, and the fiendish creature considered it his duty to crow every two or three minutes after the stroke of midnight. How well did I then enter into the feelings of a man I knew who, under similar provocation, got up from his bed, and, taking a carving-knife from the kitchen, quietly and deftly cut off the cock's head before the astonished bird had time to protest. Having stopped the crowing and assured himself that it would not begin again, he went back to bed and slept the sleep of the innocent.

I was out early the next morning, looking at the extraordinary astronomical dials of the parish church, covering much of the surface of the outer walls. All the straight lines, curves, and figures, and the inscriptions in Latin, must have the effect of convincing the majority of the inhabitants that their ignorance is hopeless. Such a display of science must be like wizard symbolism to the common people. The dials are exceedingly curious, and there are some really astonishing calculations, as, for instance, a table showing the 'number of souls that have appeared before the Tribunal of God.' Near a great sundial are these solemn words: 'Sol et luna faciunt quae precepta sunt eis; nos autem pergrimamur a Domino.' The church itself is one of the most fantastically ugly structures imaginable. All possible tricks of style and taste appear to have been played upon it. It is a jumble of heavy Gothic and Italian, and the apse is twisted out of line with the nave, in which respect, however, it is like the cathedral of Quimper. As I left the church a funeral procession approached, women carrying palls by the four corners a little in front of the coffin, according to the custom of the country when the dead person is of their own sex.

St. Affrique is a small town of about 7,000 inhabitants, lying in a warm valley and surrounded by high hills, the sides of which were once covered with luxuriant vineyards. These slopes, arid, barren, and sun-scorched, are perfectly suited to the cultivation of the vine, the fig, and the almond; but the elevation is still too great for the olive. According to the authors of 'Gallia Christiana,' a saint named Fricus, or Africus, came at the beginning of the sixth century into the valley of the Sorgues, and was the founder of the burg. St. Affrique was a strong place in the Middle Ages, and for this reason it was disturbed less by the English than some other towns in the Rouergue. After the treaty of Brétigny the consuls went to Millau and swore fealty to the King of England, represented there by John Chandos.

As I toiled up the side of the valley in the direction of Millau, I noticed the Rocher de Caylus, a large reddish and somewhat fantastically shaped block of oolitic rock, perched on the hill above the vineyards. Here the lower formation was schistous, the upper calcareous. The sun was intensely hot, but there was the shade of walnut-trees, of which I took advantage, although it is said to be poisonous, like that of the oleander.

When I reached the plateau there was no shade whatever, baneful or beneficent. If there was ever any forest here all vestige of it has disappeared. I was on the border of the Causse de Larzac, one of the highest, most extensive, and hopelessly barren of the calcareous deserts which separate the rivers in this part of France. Not a drop of water, save what may have been collected in tanks for the use of sheep, and the few human beings who eke out an existence there, is to be found upon them. Swept by freezing winds in winter and burnt by a torrid sun in summer, their climate is as harsh as the soil is ungenerous.

But although I was sun-broiled upon this causse, I was interested at every step by the flowers that I found there. Dry, chaffy, or prickly plants, corresponding in their nature to the aridity and asperity of the land, were peculiarly at home upon the undulating stoniness. The most beautiful flower then blooming was the catananche, which has won its poetic French name, Cupidon bleu, by the brilliant colour of its blossom. Multitudes of yellow everlastings also decked the solitude.

On reaching the highest ground the crests of the bare Cevennes were seen against the cloudless sky to the south. A little to the east, beyond the valley of the Cernon, which I intended to cross, were high hills or cliffs, treeless and sterile, with hard-cut angular sides, terminating upwards in vertical walls of naked stone. These were the buttresses of the Causse de Larzac. The lower sides of some of the hills were blue with lias marl, and wherever they were steep not a blade of grass grew.

Having descended to the valley, I was soon climbing towards Roquefort by the flanks of those melancholy hills which seemed to express the hopelessness of nature after ages of effort to overcome some evil power. And yet the tinkling of innumerable sheep-bells told that even here men had found a way of earning their bread. I saw the flocks moving high above me where all was wastefulness and rockiness, and heard the voices of the shepherds. There were the Roquefort sheep whose milk, converted into cheese of the first quality, is sent into distant countries whose people little imagine that its constituents are drawn from a desert where there is little else but stones.

I came in view of the village, clinging as it seemed to the steep at the base of a huge bastion of stark jurassic rock. Facing it was another barren hill, and in the valley beneath were mamelons of dark clay and stones partly conquered by the great broom and burning with its flame of gold. When I reached the village I felt that I had earned a rest.

Cheese, which has been the fortune of Roquefort, has destroyed its picturesqueness. It has brought speculators there who have raised great ugly square buildings of dazzling whiteness, in harsh contrast with the character and sombre tone of the old houses. Although the place is so small that it consists of only one street and a few alleys, the more ancient dwellings are remarkable for their height. It is surprising to see in a village lost among the sterile hills houses three stories high. The fact that there is only a ledge on which to build must be the explanation. What is most curious in the place is the cellars. Before the cheese became an important article of commerce these were natural caverns, such as are everywhere to be found in this calcareous formation, but now they are really cellars which have been excavated to such a depth in the rock that they are to be seen in as many as five stages, where long rows of cheeses are stacked one over the other. The virtue of these cellars from the cheese-making point of view is their dryness and their scarcely varying temperature of about 8° Centigrade summer and winter. But the demand for Roquefort cheese has become so great that trickery now plays a part in the ripening process. The peasants have learnt that 'time is money,' and they have found that bread-crumbs mixed with the curd cause those green streaks of mouldiness, which denote that the cheese is fit for the market, to appear much more readily than was formerly the case when it was left to do the best it could for itself with the aid of a subterranean atmosphere. This is not exactly cheating; it is commercial enterprise, the result of competition and other circumstances too strong for poor human nature. In cheese-making, breadcrumbs are found to be a cheap substitute for time, and it is said that those who have taken to beer-brewing in this region have found that box, which here is the commonest of shrubs, is a cheap substitute for hops. The notion that brass pins are stuck into Roquefort cheese to make it turn green is founded on fiction.

Having remained at Roquefort long enough to see all that was needful, to lunch and to be overcharged - commercial enterprise is very infectious - I turned my back upon it and scrambled down a stony path to the bottom of the valley where the Cernon - now a mere thread of a stream - curled and sparkled in the middle of its wide channel, the yellow flowers and pale-green leaves of the horned poppy basking upon the rocky banks. Following it down to the Tarn, I came to the village of St. Rome de Cernon, where the houses of dark-gray stone, built on a hillside, are overtopped by the round tower of a small mediaeval fortress which has been patched up and put to some modern use. I thought the people very ill-favoured by nature here, but perhaps they are not more so than others in the district. The harshness of nature is strongly reflected in all faces. Having passed a man on the bank of the stream washing his linen - presumably his own - with bare arms, sinewy and hairy like a gorilla's, I was again in the open country; but instead of following donkey-paths and sheep-tracks I was upon the dusty highroad. Well, even a, route nationale, however hot and dusty, so that it be not too straight, has its advantages, which are felt after you have been walking an uncertain number of miles over a very rough country, trusting to luck to lead you where you wished to go. The feeling that you may at length step out freely and not worry yourself with a map and compass is a kind of pleasure which, like all others, is only so by the force of contrast and the charm of variety. I knew that I could now tramp along this road without troubling myself about anything, and that I should reach Millau sooner or later. It was really very hot - ideal sunstroke weather, verging on 90° in the shade; but I had become hardened to it, and was as dry as a smoked herring. For miles I saw no human being and heard no sound of life except the shrilling of grasshoppers and the more strident song of the cicadas in the trees. By-and-by houses showed themselves, and I came to the village of St. Georges beside the bright little Cernon, but surrounded by wasteful, desolate hills, one of which, shaped like a cone, reared its yellow rocky summit far towards the blue solitude of the dazzling sky. I passed by little gardens where great hollyhocks flamed in the afternoon sunshine, then I met the Tarn again and reached Millau, a weary and dusty wayfarer.

I stopped in Millau (sometimes spelt Milhau) more than a day, in order to rest and to ramble - moderately. Although the town, with its 16,000 inhabitants, is the most populous in the department of the Aveyron, it is so remote from all large centres and currents of human movement that very little French is spoken there. And this French is about on a par with the English of the Sheffield grinders. In the better-class families an effort now is made to keep patois out-of-doors for the sake of the children; but there is scarcely a middle-aged native to whom it is not the mother-tongue. The common dialect is not quite the same throughout Guyenne and Languedoc; but the local variations are much less marked than one would expect, considering that the langue d'oc has been virtually abandoned as a literary vehicle for centuries. The word oc (yes), which was once the most convenient sound to distinguish the dialect from that of the northern half of France, is not easy to recognise nowadays in the conversation of the people. The c in the word is not pronounced - perhaps it never was - and the o is usually joined to , which has the same meaning as bien in the French language. Thus we have the forms obè, opè, and apèaccording to the district, and all equivalent to 'yes.' All these people can understand Spanish when spoken slowly. Many can catch your meaning when you speak to them in French, but reply in patois. I had grown accustomed, although not reconciled, to this manner of conversing with peasants; but I was surprised to find on entering a shop at Millau that neither the man nor his wife there could reply to me in French.

This town lies in the bottom of a basin; some of the high hills, especially those on the east, showing savage escarpments with towering masses of yellow or reddish rock at the summits. The climate of the valley is delightful in winter, but sultry and enervating in summer. It is so protected from the winds that the mulberry flourishes there, and countless almond-trees rise above the vines on the burning hillsides.

Millau presents a good deal of interest to the archaeologist. Very noteworthy is the ancient market-place, where the first and upper stories project far over the paving and are supported by a colonnade. Some of the columns, with elaborately carved Romanesque capitals, date from the twelfth century, and look ready to fall into fragments. At one end of the square is an immense modern crucifix - a sure sign that the civic authorities do not yet share the views of the municipal councillors of Paris in regard to religious emblems. Protestants, however, are numerous at Millau as well as at St. Affrique, both towns having been important centres of Calvinism at the time of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes; and after the forced emigration many of the inhabitants must have strongly sympathized with their persecuted neighbours, the Camisards. Nevertheless, the department of the Aveyron, taken in its entirety, is now one of the most fervently Catholic in France.

The church is Romanesque, with a marked Byzantine tendency. It has an elegant apse, decorated in good taste; but the edifice having received various patchings and decorations at the time of the Renaissance, the uniformity of style has been spoilt. The most striking architectural feature of the town is a high Gothic belfry of octagonal form, with a massive square tower for its base.

In the Middle Ages the government of this town was vested in six consuls, who received twenty gold florins a year as salary, and also a new robe of red and black cloth with a hood. In 1341 they furnished forty men-at-arms for the war against the English, but the place was given up to Chandos in 1362. The rising of 1369 delivered the burghers again from the British power, but for twenty-two years they were continually fighting with the English companies.

The evening before I left Millau I strolled into the little square where the great crucifix stands. I found it densely crowded. Three or four hundred men were there, each wearing a blouse and carrying a sickle with a bit of osier laid upon the sharp edge of the blade along its whole length, and firmly tied. All these harvesters were waiting to be hired for the following week. They belonged to a class much less numerous in France than in England - the agricultural labourers who have no direct interest in the soil that they help to cultivate and the crops that they help to gather in. I have often met them on the dusty roads, frequently walking with bare feet, carrying the implements of their husbandry and a little bundle of clothes. It must be very hard to ask for work from farm to farm. I can enter fully into the attachment of the French peasant to his bit of land, which, although it may yield him little more than his black bread, cannot be taken from him so long as he can manage to live by the sweat of his brow. Many of these peasant proprietors can barely keep body and soul together; but when they lie down upon their wretched beds at night, they feel thankful that the roof that covers them and the soil that supports them are their own. The wind may howl about the eaves, and the snow may drift against the wall, but they know that the one will calm down, and that the other will melt, and that life will go on as before - hard, back-breaking, grudging even the dark bread, but secure and independent. Waiting to be hired by another man, almost like a beast of burden - what a trial is here for pride! Happily for the human race, pride, although it springs naturally in the breast of man, only becomes luxuriant with cultivation. The poor labourer does not feel it unless his instinctive sense of justice has been outraged.